Honoring a thriving local weed
Dandelion fritters.

Honoring a thriving local weed

The strong and stubborn dandelion is also versatile and nourishing

WEST BRATTLEBORO — Pau d'Arco from the Amazon rainforest. Korean Ginseng. Norwegian Angelica. Exotic herbs from distant lands create a romantic allure. Their properties of longevity beguile us and create demands half a world away.

Yet right here in our own backyard grows an herb equally as magical.

Our humble dandelion packs as much medicinal gumption as the mighty plants from mysterious lands.

Dandelion is considered a weed, a word that typically means “invasive” and “naturalizing.”

Let's reframe the negativity. “Invasiveness” suggests strength and “naturalizing” demonstrates resiliency. Weeds adapt to their surroundings and thrive in their environment.

Eating weeds supports the macrobiotic philosophy: living beings should consume food that thrives in their areas. I refer to this concept as Fare Well: “fresh, ripe, whole, and local.”

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Speaking of the power in our own backyard, let us pause to acknowledge Sabine Rhyne, hired for the Brattleboro Food Co-op's General Manager position. According to last week's Commons' article, “After a nationwide search, the Brattleboro Food Co-op decided to stick close to home for a successor to longtime General Manager Alex Gyori.”

This month's column is dedicated to both Ms. Rhyne and the dandelion - two humble plants thriving in our region and offering health for our community.

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If you notice the cycles of nature, you'll observe how things bloom when we need them.

Raw foods provide cooling in the summer. Roots and tubers warm and sustain us in winter. Springtime calls for transformation: cleansing, stimulating, and grounding. It's time to get busy, so springtime offers powerful herbs that help get us going!

Blood purifiers and organ cleansers clear our systems. Adrenal motivators balance energy levels. Immune stimulants protect us from pollen allergies.

Dandelion does all this and more.

Dandelion, or in French, dent-de-lion, means “lion's teeth,” due to the teethlike shape of its leaves. Indigenous to North America, it thrives in every zone and grows throughout the entire season.

The plant is a wonderment, entirely edible and bursting with healing benefits. It is the perfect herb to awaken us after the long winter haul, a general tonic that helps strengthen most organs and glands.

Dandelion loves the liver, promoting full functionality. Liver imbalance is displayed in dark moods: irritability, anger, and resentment. Its enthusiastic support works like a puppy urging its grumpy owner to smile.

It also provides the elusive “bitter” taste, less embraced in U.S. culture than in others, but vital to health. As the saying goes, “What's bitter in the mouth is sweet in the stomach.” Bitter foods stimulate our vagus nerve, the autobahn of nerve highways, which activates digestion. Eating bitter herbs during meals is like receiving 20 percent more nutrition in every bite.

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Dandelion's deep taproot is no friend to the gardener, but consider this.

The taproot might grow as deep as a water well, gathering trace minerals your multi-vitamins only dream about. Dandelion also contains inulin, another body stabilizer, shown to prevent Type II (dietary) diabetes.

Even the stems are healing! Apply the white sap to bee stings, warts, acne, and calluses.

And to think you were starting to curse your pretty yellow lawn. Tsk, tsk.

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Cooking utilizes the entire plant: root, flowers, and leaves. Brew roots as tea or coffee substitute. Steep flowers in wine and lemonade. Fry flowers as fritters. Garnish salads with shredded petals. Sauté dandelion leaves, and eat them like spinach. Add them to quiche, grain and bean salads, and soups.

Organic dandelion leaves are sold at food stores, but I encourage you to get out there and harvest! Please avoid “toxic” areas: busy streets, dog-poop areas, leach fields, and sprayed lawns. A great way to harvest dandelion is while weeding your garden.

Flower fritters

Make a batter with:

¶Equal parts milk and flour

¶Salt and pepper to taste

¶Optional: Dairy-free milk or beer.

For puffier pancakes, add:


¶Baking powder


¶Dandelion flowers

Prepare a pan for pan-frying with:

¶High-heat oil, like grapeseed or safflower

Preheat the pan. Spoon batter onto pan, creating pancakes. Place flowers gently in batter, each in the center of the pancake. Pan-fry, browning on both sides.

Serve plain or with sauce - sour cream, pesto, hummus, hot sauce, etc.

Sautéed greens

Rinse and chop:

¶Dandelion leaves

Gently boil in water, then drain. (Save the water and drink as health tonic.)

Sauté leaves with:

¶Olive oil


¶Optional: Bacon, onion, garlic. Add other herbs or veggies, to your liking.

Dandelion lemonade


¶1 quart water


¶Large handful of dandelion flowers

¶Maple syrup to taste


For a healthy zip, include

¶A dash of Cayenne (optional)

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